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322 Nailhead Wont Start

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 3spd, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member

    I have been trying to get the 322 nailhead in my '56 Buick Wagon to run but just cant get it. This is my first time trying to start a engine that has been sitting.

    The engine turns over and has compression. I have the spark wires routed correctly. I am getting spark. I am gravity feeding the carb gas. The accelerator pump on the carb is working and all the jets are clear.

    So far I have:

    New points and condenser, new wires, new dist cap, new spark plugs.

    The engine has only a very basic wiring. Its just wired up to run with a momentary switch to turn it over.

    Ive tried pouring gas down the carb, starter spray, having someone turn the distributor while I crank it, cleaning all the spark plugs and letting the engine air out...

    Any one have any suggestions? Or better yet; anyone in the Portland area feel like coming over and taking a look at it?

    Did I leave any needed information out?

    Thanks,
    Ryland
     
  2. spark, fuel and air. is the exhaust clear. i've had mouse nest plugged exhausts keep a engine from running.
     
  3. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,498

    belair
    Member

    I THINK the front passenger side plug is number one. Are you timing it off of the correct plug?
     
  4. Bigchuck
    Joined: Oct 23, 2007
    Posts: 1,139

    Bigchuck
    Member
    from Austin, TX

    Coil working? Do you have good primary and secondary spark? Should be a strong blue spark not a weak orange spark. It needs fuel, spark, air, compression, and timing to run. Sorry, Portland is a little out of the way for me to help ya out in person.
     

  5. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,269

    Dan Timberlake
    Member

    Were you an eye-witness that it ran before being parked ?

    how did you test spark?

    How did you test compression?
    much under a quick building 80 psi may not start without being pushed at 30 mph. I am not confident The "thumb test" can tell 30 from 150 psi.

    I think if there was semi-decent spark leaping across new plugs at approximately the right time it would run a few seconds with either real gasoline or starting fluid down the breathing holes. Kerosene masquerading as gasoline might not start an engine.

    I have flooded new plugs so quick there was no popping etc. It is pretty hard to do, unless the spark is weak too.

    A coil with carbon tracks or a nice conductive layer of grundge or condensed dampness will let the sparks sneak out of work early. Cranking at night with the hood open should be free of visible sparks.
     
  6. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member

    The first passengers side spark plug is #1. I have confirmed this by what I have read online as well as from my original printed in 1956 manual.

    The spark is orange-ish. Would that be caused by a weak coil? I am using the original coil. I have tested for spark by touching the spark plugs to the intake bolts (new and clean) while cranking the engine.

    I tested compression with a harbor frieght compression tester a friend brought over and it read over 100psi; I don't remember the exact numbers and the gauge was base lining at 30psi so I can't really vouch for its accuracy.

    Should I try a new coil?

    Thanks,
    Ryland

    EDIT:

    I Should add previously with the rotor cap turned 180* I got some pretty loud backfires and almost blew the valve covers off. And for exhaust I am running 2ft long straight pipes out the manifolds.
     
  7. George/Maine
    Joined: Jan 6, 2011
    Posts: 949

    George/Maine
    Member

    Make sure you have good spark.
    Take the coil wire out of dist and hold 1/4" from ground,
    Should see nice sounding spark.Crank with key on or junmer direct to coil pos terminal.
    If good spark,
    Take valve covesr off and see if valves are stuck, baker bar will some times feel them.
    You can also check the timing order, both valves closed tdc for number 1
     
  8. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member

    Also all the valves are moving. I will try the coil to ground once the battery charges up again.
     
  9. rld14
    Joined: Mar 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,609

    rld14
    Member

    Orange spark = Bad.

    Weak spark indeed, check grounds, etc.. but ya got a spare coil to try out? Also try swapping out the condensor, a bad one can also cause a weak spark.

    And check engine compression too, if the engine isn't stuck but has been sitting for years the rings could be stuck or it could have weak compression from wear, a really tight engine might run with weak spark, but a worn one might not.

    Also yank the valve covers and turn it over by hand to check for stuck valves.
     
  10. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member

    I cleaned where the negative side of the battery connects to the motor mount as well as the cable to bright metal. I also replaced the coil with a brand spanking new one from NAPA. I am still getting a orange spark. The spark will jump nearly a 1/2" gap. The condenser is new, could it still be bad? Is there a way I can test for a bad ground?

    Thanks,
    Ryland
     
  11. I have seen condensers bad right out of the box.

    You might try to swap in the old one.

    I usually try to get my old engines running on all the old parts, even if they run poorly.

    Then I do my "tune-up" one part at a time and see the results. it helps a lot in troubleshooting.

    The backfires are a good sign, it means the problem is a relatively simple one.

    Check distributor postition with the valves closed at TDC on number one and start your wires there.
     
  12. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member

    Tried the old condenser; no change.

    Ryland
     
  13. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    Even with plugged exhaust manifolds it would start. It should at least be kicking. Maybe the spark timing is way off. Even a weak spark should give a kick, enough to make the starter do less work (motor feels like it is trying to run). Check that the timing is not way retarded or 180 off. Backfiring indicates way off timing.

    Also, 100 psi is enough compression for it to run.
     
  14. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,217

    F&J
    Member


    Let's start fresh. :) Does it try to fire a plug or two, or not?

    ..and are the plugs wet, or were they wet, then dried off?
     
  15. Are you following the firing order clockwise, or counter clockwise?
     
  16. 52pig
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 436

    52pig
    Member

    EDIT:

    I Should add previously with the rotor cap turned 180* I got some pretty loud backfires and almost blew the valve covers off. And for exhaust I am running 2ft long straight pipes out the manifolds.[/QUOTE]

    If this happened then it is probably a timing issue none-the-less. I can't recall, do the distributors in these turn counter clock wise?
    Fuel: check Spark:check Compression:check, well what else is there? Timing.
     
  17. If I remeber correctly, the distributor on a nailhead turns clockwise.
     
  18. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member


    Can you clarify what "Does it try to fire a plug or two, or not?" means? I am getting spark (although weak) to all the plugs.

    The plugs were wet and have been dried. Should I try fresh plugs?

    Clockwise

    It is kicking; here is a video of it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDoImkiytSY

    I do plan on getting a good compression tester but right now I am just trying to figure out why I am getting a weak spark. If I can get a strong spark and it still won't run I will go back to timing and compression.

    Could the weak spark be caused by a incorrect points gap?

    I did a test by hollowing out a spark plug and attaching a vinyl hose to it and cranking the engine with my thumb over the end of the hose while watching the #1 spark plug grounded outside the engine; I could feel the compression and see the spark and they seemed pretty well timed to me. At least close enough to run I would think.

    Thanks for all your help, Sorry I know so little about all this;
    Ryland
     
  19. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    Yes, if the points gap is too small or too large it will give you problems. You can set them by eye close enough, about the thickness of a thin dime. With the cap off and cranking the motor with the ignition on, you should see a small spark as the points open.

    Also, if your plug gaps are too large that will give you a problem. Make sure they are set correctly and if anything, a little tight.

    With the #1 cylinder at top dead center on the compression stroke, the rotor should be pointing to the distributor cap terminal that goes to the #1 plug. Line up the timing marks on the pulley. See where the rotor is pointing to. Then make sure that that is TDC on the compressions stroke - both valves closed, or that piston blowing pressure when you stick your thumb in the plug hole while slowly cranking the motor over - by hand, or bumping with the starter.
     
  20. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    BTW, the viseo is telling me timing is off and flooding the motor with too much spray. Set the timing right, crank it dry to clear out and it will fire.
     
  21. George/Maine
    Joined: Jan 6, 2011
    Posts: 949

    George/Maine
    Member

    First off #1 is right side try and get top dead center.Both values closed. The firing order is 12784563.
    Now here is the buick numbering,
    Right side from front to back 1357,
    Left side 2468
    When # 1 is found put pointer rotor on wire for #1
    next is # 2 going clockwise 2 is front left
    Next is 7, 7 is last right and so on.
    Little gas in carb and should fire.
     
  22. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,217

    F&J
    Member

    What it means to try to fire, is what Plym49 said in post # 13. The motor speed should "speed up" or gallup a bit if one or more cyls try to fire. This is important to know, just as needing to know if it shoots fire out the carb or backfire out the exhaust. Need to know these things to figure the next move.


    Plugs when wetted, can usually be saved. Wash them in laquer thinner or carb spray cleaner, do it several times with compressed air. Then wait a few minutes to see if oily residue is now wicking up between the porcelain and the center electrode. If it is looking oily again, clean it again.

    If you are positive the timimg is right and also the firing order, then it very typical for a long dormant engine to be real tough to start. they get flooded real easy, then compression is down, and the lack of any combustion heat will cause the plugs to be loaded up again, and again.

    A partially wet plug will fire when removed, but when under compression, it will be dead. Heat is your friend with this motor if everything is set right.

    I just went through this last week; 50 ford 6, sat 15 years with no head on, stuck real bad...and 6v. It took 2 hours to fire it after it was freed up. The owner had been dumping every type of oil in the valves and pistons for months... so it was wet every where. A wet motor like this needs heat. Any time you can get some minor firing on one or several cyls, the heat srts to help, but plugs will constantly get re-wet. I must have pulled them 10 times. Ether is your friend on a wet motor. Haters will say it ruins the engine. Not true; it greatly increases compression "pressure" if it fires, which makes much more heat.

    Once you finally fight this and get it to run, it will start easier each time...much easier even the 2nd time...it's the heat that helps.

    This 50 starts on 6v instantly and idles like silk, no smoke, no noises. It's worth the battle.
     
  23. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    x2!
     
  24. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,217

    F&J
    Member

    I missed the video until just now. I think the timing is close enough. It sounds like a motor with wet plugs, and the starter motor starts to lose rpms during that attempt.

    If it was a standard trans, it would tow start pretty quick. That is because the cyl pressure will go way up that way, and the increased pressure will cause good heat to help dry the plugs.


    After seeing the video; I would pull the plugs and clean and dry them as many times it needs to make them look like the desert... Then spin the motor over with the plugs out to air the cylinders.

    If you have extra money, go get new cheap plugs at Autozone. It will help, but there is a good chance they will load up too.

    When you try to start it with dry plugs; do not use gas. Do not hit the accel pump. Set the idle screw up quite a bit to hold the throttle open more than at idle. These dormant, wet motors will not start at half or full throttle...... then only use ether. It will go.

    A good set of booster cables would help, or a HD batt charger.
     
  25. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,327

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    After watching the video I am a bit like F&J in that I think you may have flooded the engine too often.

    I'd try this. Pull all of the plugs and take a an oil squirt can and squirt a couple of shots of motor oil in each cylinder. Then crank the engine over a few times with the plugs out to let the oil to work into the rings a bit. Then either clean and dry the plugs or replace them and put them back in. Leave #1 out and bring it up on compression with you finger over the plug hole and someone bumping the engine over with the starter. With the timing marks lined up make sure that the rotor is pointing at #1 on the cap. the points should be open or almost all the way open.

    You can check the rotation of any distributor with a vacuum advance by wrapping your thumb around the advance and point your finger down the side of it
    like this=
    [​IMG]
    your index finger will point in the direction of rotation. Clockwise rotation has to be held in your left hand and counterclockwise rotation has to be held in your right hand for it to work.
    Here is a diagram of the firing order from the 1956 National service manual.
    [​IMG]

    I am working on scanning the manual now and will post the link when I get it done. It is about 8 pages of info on the 56.
     
  26. isn't the rule of thumb on a points distributer firing order is opposite the direction the vacuum advance is hooked up.
     
  27. 3spd
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 541

    3spd
    Member

    Thank you all for this wealth of information; I will give it a go today and hopefully post a video of it running later.

    Thanks again;
    Ryland
     
  28. hambal
    Joined: Feb 25, 2010
    Posts: 1

    hambal
    Member
    from az

    did you check valve timing for possible timing chain jump ?
     
  29. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,498

    belair
    Member

    Let us know when you get it to light off. And listen to F&J.
     
  30. vintagetinman
    Joined: Oct 22, 2007
    Posts: 157

    vintagetinman
    Member

    it seem in the video to be turning over kinda slow . how fresh is the battery ?

    also how new is the starter ? i have seen a starter that was so worn that the drag used almost all the battery to turn over with nothing left to fire ignition .
     

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